Copa America 2019: Falcao wants Colombia to end long wait for a win over Argentina

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Radamel Falcao.

Former Manchester United star Radamel Falcao believes Colombia can get their Copa America campaign off to a flying start by securing a long-awaited win over Argentina in Salvador.

Both teams have undergone a significant revamp since last summer’s World Cup and the game will mark the competitive debut in charge of the Colombians of former United coach Carlos Queiroz.

Colombia have a dismal record against Argentina, having failed to beat them in the last 12 years, but Falcao believes his side – who enjoyed a considerably better World Cup than their opponents – now have the chance.

Falcao told the media: “We haven’t beaten Argentina for a long time, but we have to keep fighting. I think we are much closer.

“We will continue fighting and giving everything to achieve this goal. This team has decided to live according to this mentality of believing and fighting.”

The match marks the first competitive fixture for Argentina since their elimination in Russia, which led to the departure of coach Jorge Sampaoli as well as veterans like Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuain.

The relatively inexperienced Lionel Scaloni is now in charge and will look to his experienced figures like Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria to lead an otherwise young squad back into contention.

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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Copa America 2019: Philippe Coutinho scores double as Brazil get campaign off to winning start

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Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho scored a quickfire double as hosts Brazil kicked off their Copa America campaign with a 3-0 victory over Bolivia.

The Selecao opened the tournament in Sao Paulo and were able to overcome the loss of injured star man Neymar to claim their 100th Copa victory.

Brazil had the first effort on goal and were dominating proceedings, but the back of the net proved elusive in the first half.

Roberto Firmino and Thiago Silva provided the best chances from corners but it needed a penalty to break the deadlock five minutes after the break.

Richarlison’s strike from inside the area hit the arm of Jusino and, after a VAR review, Coutinho converted from the spot.

The ex-Liverpool man then doubled the lead with a header just three minutes later.

Bolivia were increasingly over-run and had no way back when substitute Everton Soares fired into the far corner in the 85th minute to wrap up the comfortable victory.

Brazil have won the Copa America on all of the four previous occasions they have been hosts – the last time in 1989.

Tite’s team face Venezuela on Wednesday for the second of their group stage matches, while Bolivia will play Peru on Tuesday.

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Copa America 2019: Lionel Messi, Neymar, Japan and the Maracana

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The 46th Copa America gets under way in Brazil on Friday, with a wide open tournament expected.

With some big-name absentees, debuting countries and plenty of nations who could lift the trophy it promises to be an intriguing spectacle.

Here, Press Association Sport answers some questions ahead of the opening match.

Where and when is it taking place?

Brazil will play host to the 2019 edition having won the tournament all the four previous occasions they have done so.

Games will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Port Alegre and Salvador, with the final at the famous Maracana.

The tournament runs from June 14 to July 7 with 26 matches played across thee four-team groups and a knockout stage.

Brazil or Argentina will win it, then?

Not necessarily.

While Brazil have been victorious in every tournament they have hosted, they have only won the Copa America eight times in their history.

Compare that to the 14 won by their great rivals Argentina and it proves their pedigree is not quite what many would expect.

Argentina, though, have struggled in recent years and have not lifted the trophy since 1993, with Uruguay boasting the most successes in the history of the competition with 15.

Meanwhile, Chile have been the team to beat in recent years, following up their maiden Copa America title in 2015 by defending the crown in its centenary year.

Who else is competing?

Since 1993, CONMEBOL – the governing body of South American football – has invited two teams from different associations to boost numbers in the finals.

Japan return for a second time having been knocked out of the group stage in 1999, while Qatar will make their debut this year.

Mexico have been invited to all previous editions since 1993 but are not participating this time around, while Australia are scheduled to enter for the first time at the 2020 event.

Japan were drawn in Group C alongside Uruguay, Ecuador and holders Chile, while Qatar will take on Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay in Group B.

Messi v Neymar will be the main attraction, right?

No.

Neymar will not be available for Brazil after suffering an ankle injury in a friendly against Qatar.

The Paris St Germain forward would no doubt have courted plenty of attention considering his status in his homeland and the fact he is facing serious off-field allegations.

Meanwhile, Argentina captain Messi has famously never been able to carry his sensational club form with Barcelona onto the international scene.

The 31-year-old has more than 20 major honours in Spain but only holds an Olympic gold medal and an Under-20 World Cup win when it comes to his Argentina trophy collection.

So, who else should we be keeping an eye on?

In the light of Neymar’s absence, Everton forward Richarlison will be looking to seize his moment to shine.

The 22-year-old has scored five goals from his 10 senior caps and has been in great form for his country over the last season.

Elsewhere, Udinese winger Rodrigo De Paul will hope to be given the opportunity to make an impression – as will fellow Serie A man Duvan Zapata.

The Colombia striker hit 23 league goals for Atalanta last season and is the pretender to Radamel Falcao’s international crown.

There will also be interest in how Alexis Sanchez performs for Chile, considering his alarming drop in form since joining Manchester United in January 2018.

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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